Book Review: "Paul and the Torah" By Lloyd Gaston

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Book Review

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Biblical Studies | History of Religion | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Paul and the Torah is the mature work of a well-known Canadian (Vancouver) biblical scholar in an important area of religious scholarship. The book is a collection of previously published essays having to do with Paul and his teachings regarding the relationship between the Jewish law and the Gentile Christianity of which he was pioneer. The essays, written over a period of at least a decade and arranged in chronological order, are remarkable for their coherence and consistency, and are a tribute to the author's powerful grasp and clear articulation of the materials and some very knotty issues and questions. The reader will, therefore, not be burdened by the usual situation in which the mature scholar presents a collection of uneven essays on a wide range of topics only a few of which will be of real interest to him or her. The reader of Gaston's book can expect a consistently well-written, well-argued book on a discrete topic.

The ten chapter-essays of the book are preceded by an elegantly written "retrospective introduction." It provides the reader not only a handy overview of the author's main theses and arguments to follow, but also a clear statement of his understanding of the socio-political contexts and factors (including the theological) that have influenced his theses and arguments and make the issues discussed very much alive and important. According to Gaston, the post-Auschwitz situation in which the modern state of Israel is a reality has opened up new perspectives on and questions about historical and exegetical work, especially that work pertaining to Paul and the Jewish law, by extension Christianity and Judaism.

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©1989 Princeton Theological Seminary

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